I came to an interesting realization when B and I were battling last night. I was approaching him as I would approach an adult. I wasn’t really reasoning with him, per say, but I was expecting him to use logic that he clearly doesn’t possess. He’s nearly two and a boy (double whammy) and trying to get him to understand why he has to clean something up just wasn’t working.
I have to admit, B and I have really been at it lately. He gets frustrated when I don’t understand him or I won’t give him something that he wants. He responds to these situations by striking an inanimate object and making this horrible “aaannnhhh” noise at you. I have broken him of hitting people, but still he hits. He KNOWS that it aggravates me and will look directly at me while he does it. He has moments where he seems to be mad for no reason, just randomly striking out at things in frustration.
Anyway, last night, we were really going at it, it was bath time and B wasn’t ready to stop playing with this gear game he has. Here I was, directing him to do something, expecting him to understand that time was up, and he just wasn’t. He started throwing his toys on the floor and hitting the table. It was that moment I remembered a book I had read Happiest Toddler on the Block. In it, the author describes toddlers as cavemen (and women) that we as parents are supposed to civilize. B is a caveman. He language skills aren’t great, he is impulse and pleasure driven, and seems to have no higher level reasoning.
So, instead of battling and expecting him to make the decision for himself to behave, I simply picked him up and stated firmly that we were going to the bath and weren’t playing anymore. Sure, this lead to much crying and gnashing of teeth, but I wasn’t as frustrated and, in the end, the experience was much more pleasant all around.
Now, I’m no expert and certainly not parent of the century, but I sometimes think that parents (I am sure I do this) think too much of our children’s ability to reason and make decisions for themselves at such a young age. There have been countless times where I have seen parents trying unsuccessfully to reason with their cavemen. No more for this mommy, well at least not until he is older.